Good information architecture doesn’t always take the form of a high school English paper outline (although this is a good standby).
Here’s another option: the signpost.
ideapark, a brand experience agency in Minneapolis, is doing the signpost very, very well.
Even those of us who didn’t grow up on M.A.S.H. re-runs know the signpost metaphor. It’s message is clear: “If you want this, go here; if you want that, go there.” It doesn’t get simpler than that, and simple is always better.
The signpost metaphor is best for a site with more breadth than depth. Transactional and informational sites would not be best served by the signpost metaphor. The ideapark site is primarily an awareness site: “Hello, we’re ideapark and here’s why/when you need us.”
ideapark’s implementation of the signpost metaphor is a stellar example of form and function playing well together. Page transitions are smooth and preserve a sense of movement without making the user seasick. The graphic treatment is consistent and crisp without being gaudy or becoming a barrier to what the user is here to learn or do.
(GoodShovel Rant: Flash-based splash pages can go die in a fire. Nothing makes me want to evacuate a site faster than a splash page mocking my attempts to get at the site’s substance by making me sit through a ridiculous, inaccessible disco ball pirouetting around some agency’s outdated logo.)
ideapark’s identity page is three paragraphs: purpose, approach and culture. No subpages with poorly posed photographs of the staff. No timeline of the company’s inception. Just what the user is actually here to learn.
Let the slow-clap begin.